Bookish musings: Life after death for a Kindle library?

What happens to my Kindle books when I die?

Not (I hope) that that’s imminent or anything… but my family was discussing giving away books, and one thing led to another, and this is the question that bubbled to the surface.

It all started with hearing about an acquaintance who was moving to a smaller home, and decided to give away all her non-essential books by inviting friends over for a book giveaway. She’d already sequestered her must-keep books, so she basically had a party where her shelves were open for plunder, and ended up loving seeing her friends from all different parts of her life come together over a love of books. Nice.

Of course, my husband then straight up suggested that I do the same thing! Um, no. Because (a) we’re not moving and (b) I don’t need the space my books take up for something else and (c) THEY’RE MY BOOKS AND I LOVE THEM AND I’M NOT GETTING RID OF THEM. Period.

But then we got to talking about the (hopefully) long-distant future… and I’m clear on my wishes. When I die, my lovely daughter, my partner in crime (ya know, if reading obsessively counts as a crime — which, no, it doesn’t) gets first pick on all books in the house, and once she’s done, she should first invite over a set of my book-loving friends to choose what they want, then donate the rest to the public library.

See? All nice and tidy.

Then I starting thinking about my Kindle. I currently have 817 books in my Kindle library. (Ssh, don’t ask me how many I’ve actually read.) All 817 represents some cost, because most were not free, even if I do tend to buy my e-books when there are price drops.

But do I really own the books on my Kindle? Sadly, the answer is no.

According to the Kindle terms of service on the Amazon website:

Use of Kindle Content. Upon your download or access of Kindle Content and payment of any applicable fees (including applicable taxes), the Content Provider grants you a non-exclusive right to view, use, and display such Kindle Content an unlimited number of times (for Subscription Content, only as long as you remain an active member of the underlying membership or subscription program), solely through a Kindle Application or as otherwise permitted as part of the Service, solely on the number of Supported Devices specified in the Kindle Store, and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Kindle Content is licensed, not sold, to you by the Content Provider.

The red highlighting is my addition, but the point is, when we “buy” an e-book, we’re actually just paying for the right to view the content, but the content doesn’t become our property in the way that a physical paperback does. We can’t give it away when we’re done reading it or if we end up not liking it. We can lend a title, but with limits — not all titles are lendable, and the ones that are can only be loaned for a certain length of time, and only one time. (See this article for more on lending Kindle books).

Which brings me back to my question about what happens to my e-book collection after I die? Can I bequeath my e-books to a loved one?

I’m guessing not. Based on skimming through a bunch of random articles (thanks, interwebs!), as far as I can tell, the only thing I actually own is my Kindle device. If I don’t own the content (which, again, we apparently pay for the right to use, but don’t get the right to say it belongs to us), then it’s not mine to pass along to the next generation. Which doesn’t really feel great to me, considering that each and every e-book on my reader represents a sunk cost that, at the time, I considered a purchase — just like the money I spend on all the paperbacks and hardcovers scattered around my house.

The work-around, I suppose, is all about the physical device. Theoretically, anything downloaded to my Kindle should stay there indefinitely (especially if the wifi is turned off). If I hand someone my fully-loaded Kindle as a gift, then they can read all my stuff as if they were me.

So, I guess that my loved ones who live on after I’m gone can enjoy my e-books on my devices… and just to be safe, I should probably leave them all my account info (user ID and password) when I hand them my Kindle device from my deathbed (ooh, I’m getting morbid here). I may be gone, but my Amazon account can live on! But no, my e-books don’t become theirs, and if they lose my device and/or my account information, they’ll be out of luck.

How do you think about your e-books? Do you consider them yours? I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts on this… and let me know if I’ve gotten something wrong when it comes to “life after death” for my Kindle books!

For more on the topic of e-book ownership:
Do We Really Own Our Digital Possessions?
There is a Psychological Divide Over E-book Ownership

Character obsession: Three cheers for Patreon, Seanan McGuire, and Tybalt, King of Cats

As I’ve probably mentioned once or twice or a thousand times, I’m head over heels in love with the fantasy world of the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. And among the rich assortment of amazing characters, one who truly stands out is Tybalt, King of the Cait Sidhe, ruler of the Court of Dreaming Cats (of San Francisco), formerly King of the Court of Fogbound Cats (of London).

This week, I indulged in a glorious Tybalt-fest, and it was SO MUCH FUN. First I re-read two stories about Tybalt’s origins:

In Rat-Catcher, we learn about Tybalt’s youth as a Prince of the Cait Sidhe, when his name was Rand. In order to evade notice by his sadistic adopted father, he hid out in the Elizabethan-era theaters of London and played the foolish fop when forced to be at court. Eventually, Tybalt is forced to challenge his father and assume the throne, but it’s never an easy fit for him. We see his early days as king in Forbid the Sea, when a brief break from London enmeshes him in a romantic affair with someone in hiding from a very different fae family.

The stories are available to read online: Rat-Catcher can be found here, and Forbid the Sea is available for download from the author’s website, here.

As good as these stories are, I’d read them already. The true joy for me was reading nine (NINE!!!) Tybalt stories via Patreon… And for those not familiar, Patreon is a platform where artists can offer their works to subscribers for a sponsorship fee. In my case, I’ve joined at the $1 level, which means that once a month I’m charged a dollar on my credit card, in exchange for which I get access to Seanan McGuire’s newest Patreon-exclusive content. It’s awesome. Check it out, here.

The Patreon page banner

I’m relatively new to Patreon, and had only read the stand-alone pieces by Seanan McGuire so far (including a super scary piece about viruses and a creepy horror story involving marshmallows — yes really, marshmallows!). This month’s new story was a Tybalt story, and I decided to dive in, find all the earlier Tybalt pieces on Patreon, and read them in order. And so I did. And they rocked.

The titles are (in publication/story order):

  • Stage of Fools
  • The Voice of Lions
  • The Act of Hares
  • Instrument of Darkness
  • With Honest Trifles
  • In Deepest Consequence
  • Jealous in Honor
  • Quick in Quarrel
  • Of Strange Oaths

The stories follows Tybalt through the years of his reign over the Court of Dreaming Cats. As I started these, I wondered how Tybalt ended up leaving London, because when we meet him in the modern-day world of October Daye, he’s king of the Cait Sidhe in San Francisco. This question is answered by the 9th of these stories, although there are plenty more questions to be answered in what I hope will be many more stories to come!

I’m so glad to have read these. Tybalt is a beautiful, loving, moral being with an iron will and the ability to rule a kingdom — and with the arrogance and ease of a cat. These stories show us the family he loved, back in the early years after his ascent to the throne, and the sacrifices and sorrows he endures to keep his loved ones safe. There’s tragedy, but also joy in seeing Tybalt’s devotion and unconditional love. Sigh.

I’m feeling all happy and content at the moment, having just finished the 9th story… and also strangely unsettled, because I want more, dammit — and right now, there isn’t any more!

Here’s hoping that the author-lady graces us with more Tybalt before too long, because I absolutely need to know what happens next! And meanwhile, there are all sorts of Toby-related works for me still to explore… so here I go!

Book Mail: All hail the arrival of the new Kopp Sisters book!

With an overflowing bucketful of gratitude to Amy Stewart… I was beyond delighted today to get home from a fairly high stress day of work to find a lovely package of goodies waiting for me!

I’ve signed up for the Kopp Sisters Literary Society, and received this amazing swag, including first and foremost, an ARC of the soon-to-be released Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit. I adore the Kopp Sisters books, which feature some truly awesome female characters based on the historical Constance Kopp and her fierce, funny sisters.

Also in the package, I also found a handful of bookmarks (which I’m ready to share — see the bottom of this post!), a Lady Cop Makes Trouble pencil, a recipe card for “The Midnight” (a signature cocktail), and and introductory letter. Last but not least, the ARC is signed!

Not just by the author, but also by Sheriff Heath, who just happens to be my favorite non-Kopp-sister character in the books, and also a historical figure.

Enough gushing! What’s this book all about, and when will it be released? Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

Trailblazing Constance’s hard-won job as deputy sheriff is on the line in Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit, the fourth installment of Amy Stewart’s Kopp Sisters series.

After a year on the job, New Jersey’s first female deputy sheriff has collared criminals, demanded justice for wronged women, and gained notoriety nationwide for her exploits. But on one stormy night, everything falls apart.

While transporting a woman to an insane asylum, Deputy Kopp discovers something deeply troubling about her story. Before she can investigate, another inmate bound for the asylum breaks free and tries to escape.

In both cases, Constance runs instinctively toward justice. But the fall of 1916 is a high-stakes election year, and any move she makes could jeopardize Sheriff Heath’s future–and her own. Although Constance is not on the ballot, her controversial career makes her the target of political attacks.

With wit and verve, book-club favorite Amy Stewart brilliantly conjures the life and times of the real Constance Kopp to give us this “unforgettable, not-to-be messed-with heroine” (Marie Claire) under fire in Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit.

The publication date is September 11, 2018. Are you ready?

A quick reader’s note: I’m dying to dive in RIGHT NOW… but have a book club book and a nearly-overdue library book to finish first. But keep an eye out, because I plan to read the newest Miss Kopp adventure the second I’m clear of my bookish obligations, and I’ll post a review as soon as I’m done.

Meanwhile, for those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting the Kopp sisters yet, I recommend starting at the beginning of the series. Need convincing? Check out my reviews:

Girl Waits With Gun
Lady Cop Makes Trouble (not reviewed – sorry!)
Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions

PS – The audiobooks are excellent! I adore the narration by Christina Moore, whose voices for Constance, Norma, Fleurette, and Sheriff Heath are just so distinct and full of personality. If you like to read with your ears, these audiobooks are really a treat!

PPS – Ask and ye shall receive! I’ll mail a Kopp Sisters bookmark to the first three people who ask! Be sure to tell me which of the Kopp Sisters books you’ve read and which are on your TBR pile… or if you haven’t read any yet, just assure me that you plan to start!

Cover reveal: Storm Cursed by by Patricia Briggs!

Don’t mind me — I’m just sitting here being quietly blown away by the newly revealed cover for the upcoming Mercy Thompson book!

Storm Cursed is book #11 in this amazing series. The expected publication date is March 5, 2019… which can’t possibly get here soon enough!

Synopsis:

My name is Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, and I am a car mechanic.

And a coyote shapeshifter.

And the mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack.

Even so, none of that would have gotten me into trouble if, a few months ago, I hadn’t stood upon a bridge and taken responsibility for the safety of the citizens who lived in our territory. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. It should have only involved hunting down killer goblins, zombie goats, and an occasional troll. Instead, our home was viewed as neutral ground, a place where humans would feel safe to come and treat with the fae.

The reality is that nothing and no one is safe. As generals and politicians face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, a storm is coming and her name is Death.

But we are pack, and we have given our word.

We will die to keep it.

I love this series so much! Can’t wait for March to get here… and meanwhile, I’ll be busy re-reading Mercy’s past adventures so I’ll be 100% ready to jump in once this gorgeous books finally lands in my hands.

Book mail highlight: Oxford Illustrated Dictionary of 19th Century Language

I bought myself a wee giftie this week:

Oxford Illustrated Dictionary of 19th Century Language
(published 2018)

After seeing this book mentioned somewhere (on a blog post? I’m thinking maybe via Gail Carriger?), I had to get myself a copy! For readers who delight in 19th century fictional realms, this book promises to be a must-keep-close-by sort of reference book.

Besides an A-to-Z dictionary format, there are also multi-page layouts on hot topics such as “Rich and Poor”, “Childhood”, “At Home”, and so much more. It’s all laid out in an easy-to-use alphabetical format, with eye-catching fonts and illustrations.

Oh, I am absolutely going to have a blast with this one!

And hey, you never know when you’ll need to know the definitions of poltroon, clodpole, oleograph, or diablerie.

Self-help or fiction? A look at the “how-to” books on my shelves.

After posting a review earlier today, I noticed that I have quite a few books with “How To” in the title… and none of them are actually self-help books! Yes, they’re all novels… but what if they weren’t?

What if all these books were really meant to be self-help guides? Let’s see how well they live up to their titles:

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (review)
Is it about… exercise routines involving walking? A guide to breaking up? Avoiding boring conversations?
Nope! It’s contemporary fiction about a woman who survives a plane crash, finds her life turned upside down, and ends up discovering all sorts of good things awaiting her, despite her physical and emotional injuries. And it’s just occurred to me that the title is somewhat ironic, since the main character (spoiler!) will never walk again… but she does figuratively walk away from the painful events and the unfulfilling relationship that were holding her back. So, no actual advice about walking or fitness or avoidance, but a nice, romantic read.

 

How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
Is it about… improving your life by becoming a better person? Learning self-control? Overriding rude impulses?
Nope! It’s a funny look at middle-aged marriage, and what happens when one person decides to change their entire way of being, pretty much overnight. Being generous, doing good for others, moving beyond materialism — all worthwhile goals, but in this story, it also makes for a lot of craziness and marital trouble. I didn’t actually learn to be good from this book, but I did get a new viewpoint on the value of communication and consideration in marriage, and how not to screw things up!

 

 

How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (review)
Is it about… being a domestic goddess? Mastering the fine art of pleasing a man? (Bleah) Learning how to be a supportive partner in an equal and loving relationship between equals? (wouldn’t that be nice?)
Nope! It’s a tense thriller about a woman whose recovered memories bring her to conclude that her entire marriage may be built on lies and deceit. It’s creepy and scary, and quite a good read. But I can’t say I learned anything about being a devoted spouse, unless that means endlessly scrubbing the kitchen, blindly obeying my spouse, and believing it when people tell me I’m mentally ill. No thanks.

 

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr (review)
Is it about… performing CPR? Learning First Aid? Getting Red Cross lifeguarding certification?
Nope! It’s a YA novel about grief and families, about a teen whose widowed mother decides to adopt a baby and the pregnant teen who enters their lives. It’s moving and beautifully written — but no actual lifesaving tips are provided!

 

 

 

 

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig (review)
Is it about… clock making? Stopping the aging process? Taking photos to create a family archive? (Okay, that last one is a stretch.)
Nope! It’s about a man who has lived centuries, aging at a fraction of the rate that normal humans do. Really an incredible story about the meaning of life, the search for love, and allowing oneself to connect when any relationship can only end in loss. A must-read. But sadly, no real advice about how to become immortal!

 

 

And my newest addition, which I haven’t read yet — but stay tuned, because I’ll definitely be reading and reviewing this novella during the coming week:

How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger
Is it about… dating advice for the supernatural set?
Sort of! It’s fiction, of course, and tells the story of a young American woman who, after figuring in a scandal, gets sent off to England to marry a very proper British werewolf. So no, it won’t actually help us find an online dating site that might match us with hairy shapeshifters… but it might offer some clues about matchmaking and dealing with scandal. Oh, who am I kidding? It’ll be fun, and it’s by Gail Carriger, so it’ll be worth reading even without providing self-help guidance.

 

 

What “How To” books are on your fiction shelves? Do they live up to the title?

Please share your thoughts!

Going a little preorder crazy

I’ve been showing remarkable restraint when it comes to book buying — but no more. I broke down today and pre-ordered three upcoming 2018 releases that I need in my hands NOW. Unfortunately, we all must wait for these… but aren’t they exciting?

First up, Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness – to be released September 25, 2018:

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

AAAAAAAAAH! It’s a new All Souls book! Here’s a bit of synopsis, as shared on Entertainment Weekly:

Harkness’ next novel will be Time’s Convert, EW can exclusively announce, which is set in the same universe as her best-selling All Souls trilogy and takes place in contemporary London and Paris, as well as the American colonies of Revolutionary War times, in its bridging of past and present.

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life, free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply-held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

The narrative jumps forward to the present, too, in its exploration of vampires and immortality. Overall, Time’s Convert emerges as both a love story and a meditation on tradition and change.

Also in the world of All Souls, there’s a new reference book coming out in May (which I will definitely need before diving into the new novel, unless I decide to do a series reread between now and September):

The World of All Souls: A Complete Guide to A Discover of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life will be released May 8, 2018.

A fully illustrated guide to Deborah Harkness’s #1 New York Times bestselling All Souls trilogy–“an irresistible . . . wonderfully imaginative grown-up fantasy” (People)

A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Shadow of Night and The Book of Life carried Deborah Harkness’s series to its spellbinding conclusion.

In The World of All Souls, Harkness shares the rich sources of inspiration behind her bewitching novels. She draws together synopses, character bios, maps, recipes, and even the science behind creatures, magic, and alchemy–all with her signature historian’s touch. Bursting with fascinating facts and dazzling artwork, this essential handbook is a must-have for longtime fans and eager newcomers alike.

And finally, my third preorder today — from a completely different fictional world and genre — is an upcoming sequel to Every Day by David Levithan:

Someday will be released October 2, 2018. Click here to read an excerpt via Entertainment Weekly. How excited are we??? (And don’t forget, the movie version of Every Day will be here later this month! )

I almost added a 4th preorder to my cart today, but held back at the last moment:

The Outsider by Stephen King will be released May 22, 2018 — and I definitely plan to read it, but I’m not sure I need to own it. I’ve been burned by King books before. I either love them or fall squarely on “meh”, and if this happens to be a “meh”, I’ll regret having spent money on a hardcover. So as much as I want to read The Outsider, I may just wait and get on my library’s request list. (Or, who knows? I may break down and preorder it yet. May is a long time from now — anything can happen!)

I’m so excited for my preorders! Are any of these on your WANT list?

Funny? Or is it a cultural thing?

I saw a book blurb this week that cracked me up, and my initial reaction was a combination of giggles and a bit of Inigo Montoya (substituting “phrase” for “word”, of course):

Okay, here’s the culprit: I just received a book I ordered in the mail – a guide to the world of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books. So exciting! I’d seen this book in a used bookstore a while back, but when I returned to buy it, it wasn’t there. Thanks to the glory of near-instant gratification via online shopping, I was able to find it from a used book site, et voilà! My book arrived this week.

The book looks amazing, full of info on characters, places, social structures, and more. Check out the table of contents:

Okay, so here’s the cover of the book. Notice the sticker that says “Exclusive at Waterstone’s”? (It was published by London Scholastic in 2007.)

Excuse my messy desk!

So now that my long-winded introduction is out of the way, here’s what cracked me up. Let’s zoom in on the bottom right of the cover, shall we?

Does this have a different meaning in the UK than in the US? Because when I read “I can’t recommend it too highly”, it sounds like a negative to me. “Hmm, it was okay. Not great. I mean, you might feel differently. But for me, I can’t recommend it too highly. Maybe just a little bit.”

Which I’m sure was not Philip Pullman’s intent! I’m assuming it was meant to convey: “This book is amazing. Astonishing. Super-duper-fantastic. There is no amount of superlative recommending I could do that would be too much.” I’ve been known to say things like “wow, I can’t say enough great things about this book!” in a review here or there, and I assume that’s what this blurb is supposed to convey. But to me, it doesn’t.

So what do you think? Am I guilty of misinterpreting? Being too literal? Is it a cultural thing? Or just awkward phrasing, or perhaps a line taken out of context?

Whatever. It made me laugh today, so I guess that’s a good thing.

Reading goals: Series to read in 2018

Another year, another chance to set reading goals… that may or may not be at all realistic. But hey, a reader can dream, right?

I’ve moved away from setting too many reading goals over the years. I don’t participate in reading challenges (other than Goodreads), because I know that I’ll just end up feeling frustrated and resentful if I tailor my reading to a list or set of “requirements”, rather than just reading whatever the hell I feel like. I’m definitely a mood reader — I want to read whatever I want, whenever I want, no deadlines or commitments!

BUT… I do have a few reading goals, chief among which is the desire to dive into several series that I’ve had my eye on for a while now.

In 2018, my priority series to read (or at least start) will be:

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi – six books, starting with Old Man’s War:

Lady Julia Grey by Deanna Raybourn – five books and a bunch of novellas, starting with Silent in the Grave:

Question for those who have read this series: What’s the suggested reading approach? Read all the novels first? Are the novellas necessary? Do they come at the end, or in between, or… ?? Help!

Newsflesh by Mira Grant – four novels and assorted shorter works, starting with Feed:

Again, looking for advice on how to proceed: Read the original trilogy, then the story collection, then the 4th novel?

October Daye by Seanan McGuire – 11 books and counting, plus short fiction too, starting with Rosemary and Rue:

Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch – six novels and another on the way, starting with Rivers of London (Midnight Riot):

 

That’s it for my 2018 priority list… but wait, there’s more!

I still have my eye on a bunch of series/trilogies/what-have-you that I intend to read… eventually. Maybe some will make it into my 2018 reading pile, but then again, maybe not. It all depends on my reading mood! My will-get-to-at-some-point list of series includes:

  • Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness
  • Illuminae books by Amie Kaufman
  • Anything/everything by Tamora Pierce (by order of my beloved daughter)
  • The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters
  • Wayward Pines books by Blake Crouch
  • Inheritance trilogy and/or Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin

I can’t forget to mention that I’m committed to continuing a few ongoing series as well, including:

  • The Expanse series — next up: Cibola Burns (#4)
  • Poldark series — currently on #7 (The Angry Tide), then continuing on with #8 (The Stranger From the Sea)

… and in the “don’t hold your breath” category, it would be lovely to be able to read the next books in the Outlander and A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I’m fairly certain we won’t see either one in 2018!

Are you planning to start any new series this year? If you’ve read any of the series on my “priority” list, let me know what you thought!

Charles Dickens, Serial Reader, and me

First things first, yo:

I FINISHED GREAT EXPECTATIONS!

And as expected, it was great!

For years now, I’ve been saying “one of these days”, I want to read Great Expectations. And it never happened. But why wait for “one of these days”? In the words of Rent:

I finally buckled down a little over a week ago, and decided to use my handy-dandy Serial Reader app. Serial Reader, in case you don’t know, is an awesome app that delivers public domain reading material via daily installments, usually taking no longer than 10 – 15 minutes each to read. (I wrote first wrote about it here, if you want to know more.)

But as it turns out, I’m a pretty impatient reader, and if I’m hooked, I’m hooked, and it’s impossible to put the brakes on. So yes, I started Great Expectations via Serial Reader, and within two days I was reading ahead, getting through 3 – 4 installments each day instead of just one. Still, there are 74 installments in all, and I figured I’d take my leisurely time and enjoy Great Expectations in little bite-sized pieces over the next couple of months.

Wrong.

Apparently, I suck at Serial Reader. I got into the story, and once I was into the story, I abandoned everything else I was reading so I could just keep reading more and more. And while I have a paperback edition of Great Expectations and a Kindle edition, I ended up sticking with Serial Reader all the way through to the end.

(Could it be because of the little words of encouragement and the praise every time I finished an installment? Yes, you’ve got me. I’m a sucker for badges and affirmations.)

In terms of the book itself, there really isn’t any reason for me to write a review of Great Expectations, is there? The plot summary:

Dickens’s magnificent novel of guilt, desire, and redemption: The orphan Pip’s terrifying encounter with an escaped convict on the Kent marshes, and his mysterious summons to the house of Miss Havisham and her cold, beautiful ward Estella, form the prelude to his “great expectations.” How Pip comes into a fortune, what he does with it, and what he discovers through his secret benefactor are the ingredients of his struggle for moral redemption.

I  loved the characters and the setting, and I loved seeing Pip’s development from boyhood to manhood, and his ethical and emotional growth as he understands the wrongs he’s done and seeks ways to improve himself, ultimately realizing that it’s more important to be honest and fair and appreciative than to be a monied gentleman.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read any Dickens (my only previous Dickens being A Tale of Two Cities), and I’d forgotten how delightful his writing is. When we think of classics, we tend to think stuffy and dry and old-fashioned. I was not at all prepared for how funny Charles Dickens is! His writing is so clever, and the way he uses metaphors, physical descriptions of characters, and characters names as tools for making the people and events feel fully-fleshed is pretty amazing.

Oh, those names! The best (as in, more ridiculous) here is Mr. Pumblechook — can’t you just tell from that name that he’s a pretentious fool? Joe is as sweet and simple as his name, and of course a character named Estella is glamorous and unreachable. I couldn’t help loving Mr. Wemmick, who cares for his elderly father and refers to him as “the Aged”. Just fabulous.

In any case, while I didn’t stick with the serial approach, I’m sure I’ll continue to give it a shot for future reading. Now that I’ve read Great Expectations, I really want to expand my Dickens knowledge! A goal might be to read one of his novels per year… admitting now that I’m terrible at sticking to reading goals, but this feels doable and realistic and FUN, so who knows?

 

Meanwhile, I’d really love to check out the 2012 movie vesion of Great Expectations, with Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham. How perfect does that sound? Has anyone seen it? Any thoughts to share?

As for my progress with the Serial Reader app, here’s what I’ve used it for so far, in the year since I first gave it a try:

And despite my inability to still to just one installment per day, as the gods of Serial Reader intended, I still find it a really easy and motivating way to get around to reading those big, intimidating books that feel like too big a commitment to start.